August 6, 2020
Dear Evergreen Swim Club parents, families, and swimmers,
The ESC board has been meeting regularly for the last 2 months faced with a lot of hard choices, a perilous economic picture, and a lot of uncertainty.
However, we believe we have a potential solution to the club’s situation that would give the membership long-term stability, more opportunities for swimmers, and get current ESC swimmers in the water as early as August 14th.
The ESC board has unanimously decided that we believe the best course forward for the Evergreen Swim Club is to be incorporated into King Aquatics. However, a decision this large is too much for the board to undertake itself, so we are reaching out to all members of the club to determine what the club membership wants.
I know this may come as a shock to many, so we want to do our best to explain the current state of the club, the pool situation, and the decision-making process.
During our last full season (2018-2019), the club spent about $159,000. About $114,000 of it came from dues, fundraising and fees from about 70 team members. About $42,000 came from meets, and we had a relatively small shortfall.
We were able to bank a relatively small amount of money due to a shortened long course and championship season in 2019-2020, however, next year’s financial situation is nothing short of dire.
Over the next two years rates for the swimming pool are set to increase more than our membership’s ability to afford. Additionally, the likely loss of several, if not all, of the home meets this season means we would lose most of our meet income.
Additionally, we have a shrinking membership. Currently, we anticipate about 50 members returning to the team based on the survey we put out earlier this summer. This means that if we were to divide the $159,000 up into 50 members, the cost per member would be about $3180 for the season. Our average monthly dues would have to increase to $290 a month for 11 months. This compares with our 2018-2019 dues, which averaged about $150 per member. We were concerned that with dues nearly doubling, our membership would shrink even further, meaning that dues would have to go up even more.
Another solution we considered was cutting pool time, and coaches. However, this would not be acceptable, especially given the increase in dues. Additionally, even by cutting salaries and pool time, we would not be able to make the club financially stable for much more than 1 year as pool costs increase. In 2020-2021, we likely face up to a $30,000 shortfall, which will eat up the entirety of the reserve fund of the team.
Finally, we are faced the problem that currently the team has no coaches, and no available pool time.
We have submitted two return-to-practice proposals to Evergreen State College. The first plan was rejected, and the second is currently waiting for approval. The plan would likely require a large amount of volunteer time by parents to be able to comply with all the requirements of the college.
Additionally, with the departure of all the coaches, we would need to hire a new head coach, and they would need to hire new assistant coaches in a very short amount of time. This concerned us because there is not a large pool of available head coaches, and we would not be able to offer a competitive salary given the team size and financial constraints.
As the board faced these existential questions, we were approached by the new owner of King Aquatics, Terry Yen, along with the president of their booster club, Don Clise. Don was actually an Evergreen parent about 6 years ago, and knows the team well. They brought up that idea that Evergreen and King could join forces, in order to better spread the responsibility, and to create a large and more competitive club.
Terry purchased the team about 2 years ago from the former head coach after a scandal that resulted in a large amount of the team departing. The scandal involved a sexual assault case against the previous head coach (please refer to this article if you want more information - https://www.npr.org/2020/03/11/814377679/usa-swimming-to-settle-sex-abuse-lawsuit-filed-by-former-olympian). The ESC board believes King Aquatics club is legally and organizationally sound and takes sexual assault very seriously otherwise we would not be presenting this proposal to our ESC members. Since the scandal has concluded, Terry has been working to build the team back up.
He has hired former UPAC head coach Alex Reed to be the new head coach and co-owner of the team, and has constructed a coaching staff that includes Milo Cavic (4-time Olympian) and Svetlana Karpeeva (2008 Olympian, four-time World Cup gold medalist). Milo coaches the senior-level swimmers, while “Svet” coaches the pre-senior groups. The coaching group includes a wide variety of coaches for a variety of skills. They also have a strength and fitness coach, Becca Kawaoka. You can see the whole coaching staff at https://www.teamunify.com/team/king/page/system/coaches
Additionally, King Aquatics is hiring Ryan Retana as one of their new coaches for the South Sound. He is a coach that many of us are familiar with, as he coached at Evergreen recently.
An advantage of having a large team such as King overseeing the Evergreen swimmers is that they will have more than just one coach per swimmer. The swimmers can expect to interact with several coaches during the season. Additionally, all the swimmers of each level will swim together regularly, so that members of the team get more competition and more camaraderie with a larger number of swimmers.
King Aquatics runs their club differently from our club. Unlike Evergreen Swim Club, which is run as a non-profit, King Aquatics is run as an LLC owned and operated by the Yens. This significantly reduces the strain on the parents, who focus their work on the Booster Club, which is run as a non-profit, and supports the swimmers. This means that the board members, and therefore the parents, are no long responsible for hiring coaches, managing the financials of the club, or negotiating pool contracts. Parents are able to focus on the meets, and their swimmers.
While rates for King are higher than we have previously charged at Evergreen, they are approximately in line (or lower) than the rates we were looking to charge in the upcoming season. Generally the amount of hours that each swimmer will get is the same, or more, and swimmers will also get more dryland work than before. We have also negotiated a reduced senior team rate for Evergreen members that join King for the next year to offset the increase.
I know a lot of parents were concerned that we were not able to get into practices, and if we remained as an independent club, it appeared that at the absolute earliest, we would be able to get in the water on September 14th. King Aquatics has already scheduled pool time in Thurston County with Lacey Parks and Rec at the North Thurston school pools, starting on August 14th. They have agreed to allow Evergreen swimmers who join King to swim free for the month of August. This will include socially-distanced tryouts starting on August 14th, and then swimming for the remainder of the month in Lacey pools.
King also has stated that their goal is to keep swimmers at the Evergreen pool, which was also important to the members our of board, and we believe pivotal to our membership.
One additional positive, especially for parents, is an increased pool of volunteers, judges, officials, and referees for the meets. There would also be a greater variety of volunteer opportunities. It would also mean that we wouldn’t have to scrape by with a small number of volunteers trying to run large meets.
Please take a bit of time to look over King Aquatics’ website at https://www.teamunify.com/team/king/page/home. There you will find rates, general practice hours, coaches’ information, and more
Please complete the following survey to determine if the membership agree that the Evergreen Swim Club board should consent to a merger with King Aquatics: https://forms.gle/wswFAJM8NWtn9zj78
Know that the board does not take this decision lightly. We have worked for the last few months to try to find a solution going forward for the team. If we were to remain an independent team, the drastic cuts in swimming hours and coaching experience, combined with the rapid increases in dues would have likely led to the elimination of the club entirely. We view this as the best alternative, which is why we are bringing this to the membership.
Evergreen Swim Club Board
Nikolay Ponomarev – Co-President
Henry Valz – Co-President
Katie Weaver Randall – Secretary
Julie White – Treasurer
Shakira Sanders – Fundraising Chair
Christina Jones – Meet Director
Terese Otto – Volunteer Coordinator